A World View article in Nature by Elizabeth Gadd, Research Policy Manager at Loughborough University, argues that the current global university rankings are flawed and in need of serious rethinking. The article is based on her work with the International Network of Research Management Systems (INORMS), which has started a Research Evaluation Working Group to encourage fair and responsible research rankings.
After a review of the literature on research evaluation and engaging in discussion, the group came up with twenty questions relating to four criteria, good governance, transparency, measure what matters, and rigour. These were then applied to six well known rankings: the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings, the QS World University Rankings, the Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), the US News Best Global Universities, U-Multirank and Leiden Ranking.
A team of international experts reviewed the rankings, which were then calibrated by Richard Holmes, editor of the blog University Ranking Watch. Profiles of each ranking were created according to their compliance with the four criteria.
The results showed that the performance of the ranking organisations was in general not satisfactory and that of the best-known brand name rankings was the least impressive.
The article concludes by hoping that “there will be a greater alignment between the world rankers’ approaches and the higher education community’s expectations for fair and responsible rankings.”